Maurice Bejart choreographed Bolero in 1960 for the Ballet du XXe Siècle (Ballet of the Twentieth Century). In Bolero Béjart returns to the spirit of his 1959 Rite of Spring, by negating the easy choices of a picturesque exterior in favor of a stripped down simplicity. He gives the central role, the Melody, to a solo dancer and the ensemble is described as the Rhythm. Argentinian dancer Jorge Donn was best known for his work with Bejart. His theatricality and androgynous attack epitomized the 80’s.
Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein commissioned the music originally for a ballet. The Ballet Russe, under the leadership of impresario Serge Diaghilev, premiered Bolero in 1928. The work remains Ravel’s most famous musical composition.
Boléro epitomized Ravel’s preoccupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. The music is a one-movement orchestral piece. It was also one of the last pieces he composed before illness forced him into retirement.